back to article IBM files IP lawsuit against mainframe migration firm

IBM is taking legal action against LzLabs, a company specializing in mainframe modernization services, claiming that it has violated IBM's intellectual property rights in relation to its mainframe technology. In a statement, IBM said that LzLabs had deliberately misappropriated IBM trade secrets by reverse engineering, reverse …

  1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Emulating IBM instructions

    Like HCF?

  2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

    My mistake

    I just assumed a 360 was one of the mainframes SimH could do. Apparently of IBM hardware, it can only do IBM 1401, 1620, 7090/7094, & System 3.

    I run SimH on the Pi-4's in my PiDP-8 & PiDP-11 kits from Planned Obsolescence. If you want a "real" experience, you have to tell the emulator to slowdown:

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: My mistake

      The version of SIMH I have also emulates the IBM 1130 (derived from the IBM 1800), at least well

      enough to allow me to port a Fortran program written for the 360/50 to the 1130 and have it run

      on a real 1130 (not mine, my storage space is too full to indulge that sort of pack-ratting, and the

      missus would object)

      That said, I have noticed a bit of fragmentation in the various places one can get SIMH, so YMMV

    2. Ken Shabby

      Re: My mistake

      Can you connect the Selectric, golf ball, console?

      1. An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

        IBM 2741 operator terminal

        134.5 baud, half-duplex, IIRC.

    3. An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

      Try Hercules

      I've got a Hercules emulator set up; it does System/370 and S/390. OS/VS2 MVS on S/370, and VM/370 Release 6 + CP + CMS on another instance, and Michigan Terminal Service on S/390.

      Note that you will need paid-for licenses from IBM - if they are even available - for commercial use of their older OS software.

  3. dl1jph

    Lawyers and Tech...

    For anyone else reading the article and thinking that the entire "instructions" thing seems odd, you can find everything you'd need for a clean-room implementation in the IBM guides - "z/Architecture Principles of Operation" is a complete guide to the instruction set and the "z/OS MVS Programming" series of books have all the OS services. Similar documents are available for almost everything else in z/OS. All of these are public, though with IBM changing their link structure every few weeks there's no point in me linking them directly. If you want to find them, use a search engine like anyone else trying to stay sane while working with IBM products...

    What I suspect they're actually talking about are other products IBM wants to sell for a lot of money (think CICS, IMS, Db2 and the like) - they tend to be far less well documented, using includes or assembly macros for anything the customer isn't supposed to mess with.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Lawyers and Tech...

      Even though the PoOp documents the instruction set, some aspects may be patented. Patents are public documents too, after all; that doesn't mean you can just implement what they describe with no consequences. Note that IBM says two of the allegedly-violated patents are for "methods embodied in IBM mainframe instructions".

      There are also potential issues in how you implement the instruction set. Two of the allegedly-violated patents are for optimizations. z is a CISC architecture; there's a lot of wiggle room in implementing some of those opcodes. That also means trade secrets and reverse engineering might apply, if IBM can demonstrate that LzLabs used optimizations that are used in z, aren't documented (in the PoOp or patents or otherwise), and (make a convincing argument for) wouldn't be arrived at independently. That would support their charge of license violations.

      But, yeah, the other licensed software has to be a sticking point for this sort of thing.

    2. SpongeBob1977

      Re: Lawyers and Tech...

      Well, Winsopia have directly been hiring UK ex-IBM employees.

      All with intricate IBM knowledge.

      These all worked on the software Hursley produce, CICS, CPSM and the knowledge of how to get it all to hang together.

      Personally not that impressed what I saw backing 2016, interesting project to try and displace some of IBM cash from CICS workloads. But did not have the backbone of storage integrity, it was mainly aimed at bach processing, not live workloads. That may have changed?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Modern platforms?

    El Reg wrote: "designed to allow IBM mainframe users to migrate their mission-critical applications to a modern platform"

    IBM Big Iron has hundreds of cores running at over 5GHz playing in TiBs of memory (supporting more Linux instances than you can shake a stick at). And you call x86 kit a "modern platform"? This is about MONEY, namely running the stuff on cheap kit and not paying licence fees.

    1. old lag

      Re: Modern platforms?

      It's always about money. IBM are desperate to protect their hardware revenue and related service revenues.

      If customers can port their mainframe applications away from an IBM silo to a soft mainframe at much lower cost they will do it. That will open the door to cloudy interoperability scenarios where IBM is only involved on the software licensing side, CICS, DB2 etc.

      1. QuiteEvilGraham

        Re: Modern platforms?

        Of course it's about the money. I was running (perfectly functional) MVS/ESA under VM/ESA on a x86 Dell machine 20 years ago using the thing that LzLabs built their thing on, but TBF, that was and is no threat to IBM's mainframe revenue.

        I deal with big z/OS shops all the time, and I seriously doubt that LzLabs offering could compete with a real IBM Z for sheer throughput, but there's a load of dozy legacy stuff that might make the difference in deciding to drop IBM Z for a cheaper alternative of there is cash at stake.

        The Z emulation community have been largely left in peace for years, and are not enamoured with this development.

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